Knights find momentum when they need it most

After suffering four-game slide, Mac rides four-game winning streak into season finale with playoff spot at stake

The+team+and+assistant+coach+Vaughn+Stockton+break+out+after+a+first-round+win+against+Navarro+on+March+9.

Jack Stites

The team and assistant coach Vaughn Stockton break out after a first-round win against Navarro on March 9.

Caroline Owen, staff reporter

To secure a playoff spot, the Knights have to either beat Crockett today in their final district game, or play and win a tie-breaker match against LASA. Now is not only the time for the Knights to pull up their cleat straps and prepare to compete, but also to look back on their season, learn from their mistakes, and build on their successes.

LOCKHART (W) March 14: The Knights beat the Lockhart Lions handily in just three innings, with a final score of 19-2. Sophomore third baseman Amelie Wolcott says team chemistry was the main source of the victory.

“I would say communication is the biggest part of the sport because everybody has to know the play to get the batter out,” Wolcott said.

TRAVIS (L) MARCH 22: The team faced much stronger competition about a week later, however, against the Travis Rebels on March 22. The Knights were missing players due to injury and illness, and the Rebels exploited these weaknesses during an offensive onslaught for a final score of 23-10.

“They had better hitters on their team,” Wolcott said. “We were mainly playing defense the whole time. They were just running around us.”

CROCKETT (L) March 25: Against the Crockett Cougars, the Knights started strong, but an late offensive outburst by the Cougars in the seventh inning ultimately led to a final score of 8-3 Crockett win.

“That game was the closest we’ve had so far;” freshman Lily Greendyk said after the game. “The other teams in the district are either way better than us or way worse.”

Despite the loss, the Knights’ dugout stayed positive and supportive.

Our team is very loud, that’s one of the things we’re good at. We’re always standing up and cheering.”

— Lily Greendyk

“Our team is very loud, that’s one of the things we’re good at,” Greendyk said. “We’re always standing up and cheering.”

LASA (L) March 29: The Knights stepped into the diamond expecting a lopsided win against LASA because that’s what happened when the teams met earlier in the season and Knight walked away with 28-5 victory. Overconfidence and lack of team chemistry, however, got between the Knights and their anticipated win.

“This time we went in with a lot of confidence, and I think we got a little cocky, and didn’t play as well as we should have,” sophomore Sadie Roselle said. “I think for a lot of us, we let our emotions get the best of us.”

After seven innings, the Knights were unable to get into their rhythm, and they were ultimately fell to the Raptors, 16-15. This defeat is particularly dangerous for the Knights because it threatens their district standing as the end of the season approaches.

“That loss could possibly take our spot in the playoffs away,” Roselle said, “so we’re all very disappointed about that game.”

ANDERSON (L) April 1: In a challenging matchup against softball powerhouse Anderson, the Knights struggled to find their footing mentally, which took a toll on the technical aspects of their game.

Our coach always says, ‘throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball, and you’ll do well,’”

— Naya Domingo

“I think we were all very tired, especially because that was right after our LASA defeat, and so we were in our heads,” Roselle said. “We could have been cheering each other on more. We should’ve supported each other more.”

These lapses in confidence and communication hindered their ability to focus on the simple aspects of the game.

“Our coach always says, ‘throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball, and you’ll do well,’ and we couldn’t do any of those things,” senior Naya Domingo said. “That’s just the fundamentals of the game. To not be able to do those things, together as a team, just led us to not do well.”

Despite the game ending in a 16-1 defeat, the Knights’ collective reflection on what they need to improve for the rest of the season proved valuable in the next several games.

As head coach Rachel Whatley watches, senior Mary Ayala bats during the Anderson game on April 1 at Noack diamond. (Jack Stites)

NAVARRO (W) April 5: The Knights faced the Navarro Vikings with new insight following the frustrations of the LASA and Anderson losses. By staying relaxed, focused and waiting for their opportunities, they secured a wide-margin victory of 24-6.

“We were much more patient. We waited, we let [the pitcher] give us walks if the ball wasn’t in the strike zone.” Domingo said. “We were very smart on the bases as well.”

NORTHEAST (W) April 8: Exactly a week after the 16-1 loss to Anderson, the Knights switched roles and defeated the Northeast Raiders by the same score. After getting familiar with each team in the district during the first round of games, the Knights had confidence that they could secure a victory, as long as they played their game.

“We knew what we were getting into,” Domingo said. “We knew that we were gonna get a win from that game, so we just played to our best abilities.”

We knew what we were getting into. We knew that we were gonna get a win from that game, so we just played to our best abilities.”

— Naya Domingo

LOCKHART (W) April 12:  A stellar defensive performance from pitcher Mary Ayala and stellar offensive performance from throughout the lineup drove the Knights to victory against the Lockhart Lions.

“Our pitcher Mary had a lot of strikeouts. She was mainly the reason why we won,” Wolcott said. “She stopped them from running bases around us.”

After just three innings, the Knights led, 18-3, which activated the 15-run rule, which ends the game when one opponent is defeating the other by a wide margin.

TRAVIS (W) April 14: After losing to the Travis back in March, the Knights had an opportunity for revenge on senior night. Fittingly, senior pitcher Ayala once again played a critical role in the victory, providing crucial strikeouts throughout the short match.

“I wasn’t expecting the game to end in just three innings,” Wolcott said, “but our pitcher has gotten so good throughout this season.”

Smart base-running and timely hitting also contributed to the 16-1 victory.

“We had a lot fewer infield errors, and we were much better at batting,” Wolcott said.

From losing to Travis in their March meeting to 15-run-ruling them in April, this game was a testament to the team’s development over the course of the season.